Drug and Substance Abuse in Kenya: A Rapid Situation Assessment

Peter Ndege

Ndege, Peter, National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority, Kenya

Background: This rapid assessment of drug and substance abuse sought to understand the nature, extent, and patterns of drug abuse in Kenya and its subsequent effect on the individual, family, and community at large.

Methods: A nationally representative sample size of 3,016 households was derived from all eight provinces. Two separate questionnaires were used, one targeting those age 10–14 and the other those age 15–65.

Results: The majority of respondents held positive attitudes toward consumption of licit drugs: cigarettes (73%), alcohol (72%), and khat (54%). Nationally, current use was alcohol, 13 percent; cigarettes, 11 percent; and khat, 6 percent. Current drug use among those age 15–24 was alcohol, 9 percent; tobacco, 6 percent; khat, 5 percent; and cannabis, 1 percent. The median age of first use of both alcohol and cigarettes was 9 years, while that of cannabis was 14 years. Awareness of hard drugs was 20 percent among participants age 10–14 compared to 70 percent for those age 15–65. Seventy percent of substance abusers age 15–64 had multiple sex partners, and 60 percent of all participants were unaware of available treatment and rehabilitation services. Schools (77%) and religious institutions (62%) were the main sources of information for those age 10–14. Perceived harm for cocaine and heroin was 80 percent in urban areas vs. 60 percent in rural areas.

Conclusions: (1) There is urgent need to create awareness about hard drugs and available treatment and rehabilitation services. (2) Schools and religious institutions are excellent avenues for information dissemination. (3) Inhalants were a major omission in this study.

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Sub-Saharan Africa
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